Purple Cafe & Wine Bar
The day before we were to leave for Seattle, my husband sent me a quick text that said something along the lines of “Purple Café & Wine Bar, check out their menu.” Turns out that this was a recommendation from a co-worker of my husband’s who had spent some time in Seattle and thought that we might enjoy Purple Café & Wine Bar. At first, I wasn’t quite sure of the suggestion, before I looked at the menu, because of the fact that it was wine bar and I’m not a wine drinker. But, knowing the person who made the recommendation, I realized that it probably would be a good recommendation because she’s got good taste. It couldn’t hurt, right? And besides, we needed a place to grab a late lunch/early dinner the day we were flying out of Seattle back to Los Angeles. And hey, what do you know, Purple Café & Wine Bar is literally one block down the street from our hotel! How convenient. After a perusal through their menu, I found items that I could enjoy and the atmosphere of the place looked really neat, so I went ahead and made reservations. Our plan was to check out of the hotel, have them store our luggage, walk across the street to the restaurant, enjoy a meal and then head back to the hotel to pick up our bags and take the light rail back to the airport.
After having been in Seattle for a few days and feeling like we had walked all over the downtown area, we passed by the Purple Café & Wine Bar several times. Each time, I looked at it with longing waiting until we could give it a try. The restaurant is literally floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides of the restaurant with a prime corner location in Downtown Seattle.
As you walk by the restaurant, you can see their very unique spiral stair-cased wine bar sitting prominently in the middle of the restaurant. As you walk inside the restaurant and are greeted by the wine bar, it’s even more impressive. Turns out, that in the middle of the spiral wine bar, about halfway up the staircase, there’s actually hidden door that leads to a small hidden room inside. Very cool.
Turns out that the brains behind the concept of the Purple Wine Bar & Café are a husband-and-wife couple who had a desire to open a restaurant which featured what they called “approachable expertise”. Essentially, they wanted to pair a global wine selection with seasonal and fresh Northwest cuisine all in a relaxed and comfortable dining atmosphere. They opened the first Purple Wine Bar & Café in Woodinville, Washington in 2001. The first restaurant was a success and in 2003 a second location was opened in Kirkland. Finally, in 2007 the Downtown Seattle location was opened and soon followed by a fourth location in 2009 in Bellevue. This concept has actually been expanded by this duo with their creation of Barrio, a restaurant featuring Mexican cuisine paired with handcrafted cocktails, and finally Lot. No. 3 which features classic comfort food paired with classic cocktails and brews.
Though my husband and I aren’t wine drinkers (I know, blasphemous!), my husband did see a drink on the menu he wanted to try out, ginger beer. Turns out that the ginger beer was bottled by a local Washington company called Cock ‘n Bull. Served ice-cold and with a wedge of lime, this ginger beer was fantastic. It had a hint of sweetness with a strong tang of ginger, which my husband just loved.
Since this would be the only meal of the day that my husband and I would be eating, we went all out and each decided to order an appetizer. For me, I went with the smoked beef tartare. This was actually the first time I’d ever had tartare before and I was excited. I’m a huge fan of carpaccio and figured that tartare would be similar. Here, the smoked beef is mixed in with chopped up capers, cornichons, shallots and spicy aioli and served alongside grilled bread. I’m not the biggest fan of cornichons, but being completely chopped up and mixed with the beef and other ingredients, you couldn’t even tell it was there, other than the tang from the vinegar which you could taste. The capers added a nice salty mix, and the shallots give it a hint of sweetness and the subtle flavor of onions. The spicy aioli could clearly be picked up and I loved the little bit of kick you got from the tartare. But the star was the smoked beef. I loved the fact that it was smoked because you could really taste the smoky flavor of the beef, it was pungent and hit you right away. This was a terrific dish and a good start to the meal.
My husband went for something neither he nor I had ever eaten before but had heard about for so long. It’s traditionally associated with being a Canadian dish, originated out of Quebec, but there’s so many different versions these days with so many varied ingredients. Poutine is what I’m talking about, and as soon as my husband saw it on the menu, he knew he had to give it a try. At Purple Café, the poutine is served with fontina fondata instead of the traditional cheese curds, and topped with a bacon demi-glace and lemon-thyme gremolata on top of shoestring fries. Then the entire thing is topped with a huge portion of braised bacon. Oh wow did this look good when they brought it to the table. Provided with a huge steak knife, we decided to cut into the braised bacon and shred it up over the poutine. Then it was time to dig in. This was sinful comfort food at its finest. These fontina fondata and the bacon demi-glace were amazing and rich and absolutely melt-in-your mouth good. The lemon-thyme gremolata gave the dish a bit of acidity and some earthiness and that braised bacon was so amazingly delicious. This was the one item that my husband said was the most amazing thing we ate during our trip to Seattle. We just couldn’t get enough of the starchy potatoes with the bacon demi-glace and the sweet fontina fondata and the super delicious braised bacon. This dish was literally to-die-for.
For our entrees, my husband ordered the pancetta and apple pizza. The pizza is handmade and topped with Tuscan pancetta, caramelized apples, autumnal herbs and New York style ricotta. You have the option of topping the pizza with a Steibrs Farms fresh egg, which my husband couldn’t resist. When the waitress brought the pizza to the table, she said that this was her favorite item on the menu and that the only way to have it was with the egg on top. The first thing my husband did was cut into the egg so that the runny yolk would run all over the pizza. The crust on the pizza was perfectly cooked, crispy on the edges and the bottom, but doughy on the inside. The Tuscan pancetta added a nice salty flavor to the pizza, and the runny egg yolk was fantastic and creamy. I thought that while the caramelized apples were good, they lacked a bit of texture to them because they were so soft. I would have rather seen the apples still have a bit of a bite or crunch to them. But the star of the pizza, in my onion, was the New York style ricotta. It was so creamy, and soft and delicious, but some texture to it. It certainly paired well with the pancetta. My husband really enjoyed the pizza, though surprisingly, the poutine took enough out of him that he couldn’t finish the last slice!
I went with a hamburger for my meal, the Painted Hills burger. The menu stated that the burger was made with Beecher’s smoked flagship cheese, grilled onions, mixed greens, tomato, sherry vinaigrette and spicy aioli. As soon as I saw Beecher’s smoked flagship cheese, I knew I had to have this burger. After all, Beecher’s Flagship is some of the best cheese I’ve ever tasted. The burger was super juice and tasty and the spicy aioli really came through. The tomatoes were ripe and fresh and the bugger was completely filling. Normally, the burger comes with a side of French fries, but I decided to substitute it for a cup of Purple Cafe’s tomato soup with San Marzano tomatoes. Being a cold and blustery day in Seattle, the tomato soup just looked too good to pass up and really helped to warm me up. I loved the rich, bold flavors of the tomato soup. This was like a comfort food meal, hamburger and tomato soup.
For dessert, my husband and I decided to split a desert, the cordillera mousse with chocolate crumbs, rosemary-chocolate sauce, cocoa nibs and chocolate crisp. The waitress told us we wouldn’t be disappointed as the dessert was as delicious as it was pretty. The waitress was right, the dessert itself was beautiful, but it was every bit as good as it was beautiful. When I ordered the dish, I wasn’t sure what to expect as I thought mousse might be something that came in a cup and was a lot softer in texture and fluffier. What they did at Purple was harden up the mousse in a cylindrical shape and laid it atop a bed of cookie crumbs, there were dots of rosemary-chocolate sauce on the plate and a few sprinkles of cocoa nibs. One bite into the mousse and it was fantastic. Even though it didn’t have the physical appearance of mousse, it certainly had the flavor profile of light, whipped mousse. The mousse was perfectly sweetened and the cookie crumbs, cocoa nibs and rosemary-chocolate sauce only helped to enhance the flavor of the mousse. The bed of cookie crumbs was perfect as it provided a great texture to the dessert. The rosemary-chocolate sauce was delicious. You could just barely taste the earthiness and woodsy notes of the rosemary before you were hit with the semisweet chocolate sauce. This was such a unique and creative dessert.
Purple Café & Wine Bar was a perfect choice for our final meal in Seattle. To dine in a restaurant which features local and seasonal fresh Northwest cuisine is really what the Seattle food scene is all about. Enhancing flavor profiles familiar to the area using quality, fresh and sustainable ingredients. Every thing from our drinks to the appetizer to the entrees to the dessert was top-notch. I’ve got to thank my husband’s co-worker for the suggestion as it was spot on. What a terrific Christmas trip we had to Seattle, discovering everything that the Pacific Northwest had to offer.